What to think about when choosing your venue. How to approach institutions and companies to ask for help with space.
Selecting a suitable venue for your GGJ is a very important job. It is a great idea to visit the venue and speak in person to the venue managers before you commit, so you can get a good idea of the layout, facilities, organisation, and how best to divide up the space for your jammers.
This can be a great pick, as schools are set up for dealing with students on a day to day basis. This means they might already be prepared for dealing with people overnight, they might already have computer equipment you can borrow, and they are likely to have the best and fastest internet access around. It is also possible they already have security and janitors you can share, or hire for your event.
Approaching a local office (especially if they make vidoegames!) can give them a great way to get a connection to the local game making community, and as such it is often possible to find a place which will give you a space for free. They might also be up for paying for some pizza for the jammers if you include them as a sponsor for your local event! Sometimes they are less able to take people overnight for events, but sometimes if their staff also want to take part this can be possible.
There are 2 limiting factors of how many participants you can have at the jam:
- 1.The physical space has to be big enough for all of the participants to sit with their laptops and set ups in the same room.
- 2.The power requirements for that many laptops or computers to be running at the same time. You should also consider the need of at least 1 plug socket per jammer, if not more. See Setting up your venue for more details.
The room should be heatable or cool-able depending on your locations climate. Even in cold climate, computers get hot and bodies get sweaty - so make sure you can control the temperature!
It is important your jam is not just work focused. Therefore we recommend you find a venue which also has break out space/separate areas that can be used for meal times, social time, playing video games and other more relaxed activities. A separate area for sleeping if you are staying overnight is also recommended.
Having a larger space to show presentations is also a really big plus - for showing the keynote at the start of the jam, and having groups present their work at the end. See the presentations part of the guide for more information.
Identify your venue's point-of-contact
Now that you know what you need for a jam site, you may have some ideas for good venues within your local community. Your next step is to get in touch with management staff at these venues to see if you can book their space for the jam.
You may already have a connection to your venue of interest. Perhaps a friend or someone from your local game development community can put you in touch with staff at the venue. Even if you don't have an existing connection, it should be easy to find a point-of-contact. You can try finding an email for your venue on their website, or maybe reach them on social media. If you're interested in working with a university or school, you can likely find the contact info for the admin of their game development / computer science / etc. department on their website - or at least a general contact who can direct you to the right person to talk to.
Sending your event request to your venue of interest
Once you have a contact to reach out to, you're ready to draft your request to the venue. The key part here is to be kind, succinct, and helpful in your communications to the point-of-contact. Providing the following bits of info to the venue can help them quickly and confidently make a decision to host your jam site:
- What / when exactly is GGJ and what is a jam site? (This may be their first time hearing of the event.)
- A quick introduction on you and your volunteer team so the venue knows who they'd be working with
- A clear request based on your planned scope for the jam site (Example: Requesting a 24-hour space for 100 jammers throughout the event? Or maybe a space for 30 jammers between 9am-5pm?)
- A note on the benefits of supporting your event (Will you list them as a main sponsor? Will you promote their space within local developer community groups / social media? Would your jam site be connecting them with potential students or hires - or be a good event for their own students/staff? Would they be helping your region's development scene - or maybe even be the first jam site in your region or country?)
Helpful resources for sending your request:
You can find a sample request letter below to help you draft your message to your point-of-contact, and it includes several useful links to share.
//TODO sample request letter & GGJ informational one-pager
- Does the venue have insurance in place for the jammers against injury? Does it include people staying overnight? If not you need to get insurance coverage yourself.
- Are jammers okay to plug in their own equipment, or does it need to be tested to make sure it is electrically safe? (PAT test)
- Is there sufficient access to the event site/venue for pedestrians and vehicles? How about for wheelchairs and pushchairs? Are there enough emergency exits?
- Are you able to access the venue for 24 hours? If not, make sure your jammers know this so they can arrange alternative accommodation
- Does the venue have heating or cooling? Make sure you know how to use this!
- Is the venue okay with getting food delivered? If so how can the delivery person find the space? If not, what in house catering options are available to you and your jammers?
- What are the public transport links like?
- What is the security set up? Can the venue help you with this? Will there be staff/volunteers on the site at all times?
- What is the fire safety procedure? Make sure your jammers are informed.
- We recommend you conduct a risk assessment of the venue, and implement a safety plan before the event. //TODO add link to this page
- Where can people work/chill/sleep? Make sure jammers know the etiquette of each space at the jam.
- Are there any lockers or locked rooms where the jammers can keep their equipment secure?
- Do you have a place to do presentations before and after the jam?